Doc Rivers 76ers warn of Celtics postseason success when they fall 3-2

Doc Rivers 76ers warn of Celtics postseason success when they fall 3-2

Brian WindhorstSenior writer for ESPNMay 10, 2023, 03:44 PM ET3 minutes to read

Doc: We can’t feel comfortable being 3-2 up

Doc Rivers explains why the 76ers are uncomfortable going 3-2 in their series versus the Celtics.

Camden, NJ — One day before the chance to close out a crucial series against a challenger Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, the Philadelphia 76ers, tried to take advantage of his opponent’s best advantage in Game 6 on Thursday.

Rivers publicly warned his team during meetings Wednesday about the Celtics’ recent success in this venue — specifically Boston’s huge Game 6 victory on the road in Milwaukee last season when it faced elimination in the same Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

The Celtics, who dropped Game 5 to the 76ers Tuesday night in Boston to be pushed to the brink of elimination, won the Road 7 game in Miami last season. Both came after disappointing home defeats in which the 76ers caught themselves 33 points behind league MVP Joel Embiid and 30 points from guard Therese Maxe to take a 3-2 lead.

Rivers was hoping by making it a major talking point that maybe he could get the Sixers to match the edge the Celtics have shown time and time again in this situation. Over the past two seasons, the Celtics have gone 6-1 after defeats at home and 3-1 when those games are on the road, including a win by shutting out the Hawks in Atlanta in the first round this year.

We are all searching for things [for motivation]We’ve talked candidly about this as a group, Rivers said. “Well, they’ve done this and so they’re going to come in with confidence, and we’ve got to be ready for that. You have to hit four.” [wins] And you didn’t do anything. And we talked about that a lot today.”

Rivers said the film study before Wednesday’s light practice focused on the amount of open three-pointers the Celtics managed but failed to produce. Celtics coach Joe Mazzola said he felt his team missed 10 “wide open” three-pointers in the first half of Tuesday’s 115-103 loss. Boston finished the game 12-of-38 (32%) on three-pointers but were only 9-of-33 before pulling starts.

This was a groundbreaking season for the Celtics, who are 34-2 when shooting better than 40% from 3-point range and only 29-28 when shooting under 40%.

“You can’t get too comfortable. You really can’t—and if we did, we wouldn’t win,” Rivers said. “In qualifying, there is no such thing as relief.”

Rivers confirmed Embiid dislocated his right knee brace, which he covered with tight setters, during Game 5 for the first time since sustaining a sprain three weeks ago. This helped Embiid feel more free, as he was able to be more aggressive going to the basket, earning 11 free throws.

“The coaches just want to keep an eye on him and if there’s anything they’ll bring him back,” Rivers said. “But he got through it and was fine today, so we’re fine.”

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